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Stock Watch: Final Four

Wed, 04/04/2012 - 11:03pm

Rising

Doron Lamb 6'4 G, Kentucky

Doron LambDoron LambNo one benefited more from their performance over the final weekend of the tournament more than Doron Lamb. He's solidified a spot in the first round and could now hear his name as early as the mid to late teens.

While most combo guards possess a sound mix of scoring and ball-handling, they also come with the risk of questionable shot selection, a high turnover rate and the tendency to over-dominate the ball. Lamb is a combo-guard yet doesn't possess any of these negative qualities. He's efficient at a position that makes it difficult to be so.

Lamb must have slept like a baby Monday night, after making the best of what's likely to be his final collegiate game. He scored 22 on 7-12 shooting with 1 turnover, potentially moving the needle on his draft stock more than any other prospect in the game. He showed off his deceptive scoring ability and sweet rhythm spotting up, and further proved himself as first round-worthy based on his versatility and ability to knock down shots.

Michael Kidd Gilchrist 6'7 SF, Kentucky

Usually when you talk about giving a player space, it's as a shooter or isolation scorer. But Kidd-Gilchrist is neither, yet does more with space than any player in the country. With just an arm's length of room in front of him, MKG explodes through a gap like Adrian Peterson and climbs the interior defense like a pole vaulter.

He was unstoppable going north/south in the first half against Kansas, and has established himself as the most explosive open-floor threats in college basketball, with great body control and finishing ability.

With the ability to guard practically three positions, Kidd-Gilchrist's versatility makes him a fit on any roster regardless of its current personnel. There's absolutely zero risk associated with MKG, which can't be said about any other competing prospect outside of Anthony Davis.

He may lack the upside of some other prospects, but his will to win and team mentality makes him a low risk prospect in the top 5.

Anthony Davis 6'10, PF/C Kentucky

Only Anthony Davis could shoot 1-10 and win MOP of the Championship game.

He dominated a game in which he couldn't score, turning simple Kansas layups into arduous tasks. He finished with 15 rebounds, 6 blocks and 5 assists in the championship game, negating his somewhat shaky offensive performance going head to head with 7-footer Jeff Withey.

He wasn't even in the frame for most of his rejections- you just saw a long arm stretch across the screen and swat a ball that seemed destined to reach the rim. As a weakside help defender, Davis proved capable of guarding both his man and the ball at the same time. He swatted T-Rob numerous times while guarding Withey.

Having a 7'5 wingspan at 6'10 is like handing your average forward a tennis racquet and asking him to defend the basket. He's a game-changer whether he's scoring or not, and considering his experience playing guard on the perimeter in high school, it's safe to assume his offensive game will develop with time.

Thomas Robinson 6'8 PF, Kansas

Thomas RobinsonThomas RobinsonIt wasn't his best offensive night with Davis constantly interfering, but Robinson played his ass off and remained active throughout the game. He finished with 18 points and 17 rebounds, looking like a man possessed fighting off an army of flailing arms at the rim.

Robinson should feel no shame finishing runner up: if it weren't for him Kansas would probably have been a top seed in the NIT. His attitude, elite physical attributes and improving feel for the game contribute to Robinson being the top power forward prospect in the draft pool (outside of AD). After outplaying Jared Sullinger in the Final Four, it's safe to project Robinson as a top five lock.

Jeff Withey 7'0 C, Kansas

It's rare to compliment a player's range defending the post, but Withey moves gracefully patrolling the paint. He can get from the weakside elbow to the strongside low block as quick as any 7-footer in the country. With his length and mobility, Withey raises the level of shot-difficulty for anyone attacking the rim.

Withey held Anthony Davis to one field goal in the championship game, and although he looked uncomfortable offensively, his defensive prowess was absolutely noteworthy. He averaged 5 blocks per contest in 6 NCAA tournament games, a staggering number that can't be ignored. There's not much upside here, but in a league where mobile defensive 7-footers are scarce, Withey has substantial value as a legitimate backup center.

Slipping

Jared Sullinger 6'10 PF, Ohio State

Jared SullingerJared SullingerThere's no other way to put it: Sullinger got outplayed by Thomas Robinson, his draft day positional nemesis.

He shot 5-19 against Kansas, and failed to get the easy buckets that Robinson gets playing under the rim instead of over. It's not that he's overrated or regressed as a player- there's just safer options with higher upside.

He has a lot of positie attributes and stands an excellent chance to get drafted in the 8-12 range. But his conditioning and speed have become legitimate concerns.

Sullinger has not only slipped from being projected top 5, he's no longer an absolute lock to be a lottery pick.

Tyshawn Taylor 6'4 G, Kansas

Outside of a select few open-floor finishes (which were impressive if I must say), Taylor struggled to get his team's offense in any sort of rhythm. As a scorer he seemed hesitant to pull-up while picking the wrong times to attack. Though he scored 19 points, most of them came with his team down double-digits. He made another crucial turnover on the most critical possession of the game, a tendency that's haunted Taylor throughout his entire four-year career.

Taylor remains the tricky type of tweener- the kind that's not an overly adept scorer OR reliable half-court facilitator. His horrid decision making ability has to make a lot of teams question whether he's worth the gamble on his considerable athletic gifts.

Deshaun Thomas 6'7 SF, Ohio State

Thomas had a pretty rough go against Kansas, taking 14 shots (hitting just 3) in just 23 minutes. The minimal playing time can be attributed to foul trouble, where he looked slow-footed and out of position on the defensive side of the ball.

Offensively he shot poorly, and like his buddy Sullinger, struggled to find easy ways to score. He's a small forward that lacks the quickness, athleticism and mobility required to play the position at the next level. He's had success posting up smaller players, but that seems unlikely to translate. Consider Thomas a potential second rounder heading into his junior year.

Follow Jon on Twitter @NBADraftnetWass

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I disagree about MKG's upside. I see it as quite huge. In fact, he's right alongside AD for best pro prospect. Lamb on the other hand, like Rivers, has some questions...mostly on the defensive end, and from a strength standpoint. Every year guys go to the NBA and lack the strength to play as they did in college. I know there are tons of Rivers fanboys on this site....but hes another defensive nightmare (watch McCollum score at will in the duke-Lehigh game). MKG plays defense and is very strong. Sullinger....for me, is the biggest enigma. I want to really like him. But when Robinson outplays him...and robinson is under 6 9 by the way....then one has to really wonder. Meyers Leonard dominated him earlier in the year. That said....Sullinger is strong, has a great post up game....but because of his size he's probably going to struggle to some degree. But I dont know.....he's still a big question mark for me.

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